We woke up to a perfect LA day. Went for a short walk in the neighborhood around the Kimpton, exclaiming like blind people about the plants, the color, the light the things that are unremarkable to those who live here. There were beautiful white roses, plump peace roses, all manners of palms, blue plants, purple plants, trees with berries, another form of bittersweet. The grass is gorgeous, and it must be becoming sping here because the glossy, leathery leaves of magnolias are coming on, and in some of these magnolias,there are buds on the branches.
We hopped in the car with two bouncy, chatty teenagers and headed over to Westwood for breakfast at the Corner Bakery which was delicious and really inexpensive. The baked goods were noteworthy--with the most interesting thing they do (I plan to do at home) is essentially twice bake thinly cut raisin bread and coat it with a layer of sanding sugar..all chunky and glistening. They also had a swiss oatmeal (cold with fresh fruit) that was outstanding and cost less thand $3.00.
Then, off for more walking around their college town. We saw all the famous movie theatres, shops and to my delight something really vernacular for Westwood. Along the side street of the shopping area, there were food stands/shacks set up--much like the stands we saw on Oliveria Street. More very local street food--korean, japanese, burgers with sit down or stand up tables. These stands are back to basics, probably built by the cooks that run these places....and from what I read, these stands are often the starting point for some of the restaurants here in LA. The group broke up for a short time with Rob going off to scout the Hammer Museum and the kids and I going to Urban Outfitters to see what there was to see (and buy). About an hour later, I had bought 2 belts and 2 pairs of pants for A, and 2 tunics, and a pair of metallic silver leggings for K. Off to the Hammer.
The Hammer is noteworthy as it was formerly a dusty, musty museum filled with old masters that was very restrained...(and probably not too popular with the college crowd). However, with a new director and a link to UCLA, the Hammer has upped the ante with their programs, presentation and work to become a beautiful jewel in Westwood. They use their interior and exterior spaces beautifully with fabric, pillows and curtains to define spaces that lead to the galleries and theatre. UCLA has a screening space ; The Billy Wilder Theatre, in which they screen the UCLA film series. The Billy Wilder is a spare area using huge blow ups of portraits of Wilder or select images from Wilder's work. Very black and white with benday dots.
We saw an absolutely rocking show on woodcuts, "Gouge"--woodcuts from 1870 to the present and another on portraits that were extensive and has me kicked in the booty. There was an Eduard Munch that printed a board/wood grain in a warm grey on beige/tan with the main form, sparely printed in black. Others just went to town printing the grain as part of the design of the piece. There were four woodcuts by Spanish artists: Artemio Rodriguez (1962, Mexican) Triumph of Death, 2007; Luiz Penalver Collazo ( Cuba, 1927) Latin American Unite and Carmelo Gonzalez Iglesias (Cuba, 1920-1990) were the show stoppers for me. These pieces were oversized (often as many as 5 panels across and 3 down)and absolutely muscular and vehement in the line, content and expression in black and white. Totally up my alley. The transition from image to image combined with a masterful use of black and white rocked my world. These artists were all working with politically charged content--often shifting scale within their pieces to stress a point or draw the eye... The portrait show was a show with the Grunewald Center at UCLA . HIghlights for me were Kathe Kolowitz's self portrait, a Durer portrait and my new favorite, Kahinde Wiley (remember Art Basel Miami's artist who does portraits of Rap stars??) with two amazing graphite portraits that were spare of line, and a delicate hand. I could go on all day about this stuff, but our day was long.
Then, lunch at The Stand in Westwood. The Stand is probably one of those stands that grew up. We all had burgers (which was what the room was doing) and took in the crowd, the vibe. It was great. We got in the car and did a little "lay of the land" drive through the UCLA, through Beverly Hills to the canyons to end up at an old favorite place of ours, Tree People.
Tree People has changed significantly since we went there last with a lot of new buildings, a nursery, and more groomed trails. It was absolutely amazing (as usual) with the smells from the eucalyptus, bay trees almost overwhelming you in the damp humidity that always seems to be part of the the Tree People environment. Lots of trees in bloom with vistas on our walk, opening up to seeing into the canyon and beyond--with the houses nestled into the valleys. It was the perfect break to the museums and shopping. K and A were laughing and teasing...and loud (as they proudly told us) which made it fun to be almost anywhere.
From there, R navigated with his new gps on his blackberry to get us to LACMA. LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art, is an uber museum with a huge range of galleries from contemporary to classic which embraces many repurposed buildings on a multiblock campus. There is art inside and out...with a wonderful installation of streetlights between the entrance space and that of the Contemporary building. We saw a great show of Vanity Fair photography with K and I swooning over the Steichen work. We gift shopped (lots of great books and gear...and a lot on sale) . We saw a sports inspired show with the highlights being a video piece with all kinds of levels of information projected with a tweaked soundtrack (overlaid by a person that quietly stated they liked cheese) My hands down favorite were five pieces done by an artist who translated Pacific Northwest ritual masks and totems out of sports gear. The totem was created out of many black and red golf bags with the masks being constructed out of sports shoes cut in half and joined together--with artifical hair (probably from wigs) when needed. Spectacular...
Then off to the Contemporary space to see a wonderful Jeff Koons show (complete with Michael Jackson and Bubbles, an aluminum Balloon dog to name a few). A was very taken with it and it puzzled him. We toured the collection with Ed Ruche, Jasper Johns, Rauschenburg with A adoring it all. He read the side panels and took time with the pieces. The watch word in the contemporary space is warm red. All the vertical architctural members outside of the building were warm red....and upon entrance, you are presented a huge Barbara Kruger installation that frames an enormous elevator (also warm red) that traverses the floors. Truly huge elevator that Rob likened to a container size ( 10' x 30') which was art particularly when it took us to another amazing pair of installations by Richard Serra--much in the same hand and spirit as his pieces at Dia Beacon. This also prompted a lot of very pointed questions from A about why would someone do this sort of work? why would they do it? what was the point? Serra's massive steel (250 tons of molten steel for these pieces) express space, toy with the material and engage the viewer in thinking about outside, inside, and aptly framed up, rooms, by R. Perhaps we can go back to LACMA to see the show on Latin American artists and Indonesian textiles (separate shows--though the fusion would be great).
We met Rob's sister, Gloria, back at the Kimpton after driving through Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive with Christmas going full bore. The best of the best was that Baccarat had created chandeliers (each in a box) which were suspended over the street (two per pole) which were lit in the evening. No way would the luxury glass company we were affiliated be able to do to that extreme for attention. It was great.
Of course, there was more laughing and talking with the teens...We are creating a story line about a woman names Kitty Katz who was married to Bernard, the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and her liasons with her imported Christmas Decorator, Dimitri (from Russia) and her pool boy, Apollo from Greece. Kitty Katz has a solid gold car that doesnt have an engine. It just looks good. She lives in one of these confabulous houses we drive by...and the imagination goes wild. I think K and I need to do this as an extra credit project and have her publish a chick lit book before she finishes high school. It was very funny and fun for the group.
Dinner with Gloria was at Nanbankan on Sawtelle...a yakatori restaurant with amazing skewers of food from asparagus and ham all roasty to tiny lamb chops, and sushi. Nanbankan is hidden away (you really need someone to take you there) with a door inside a nondescript building that you enter from the back. It has been recognized by all the magazines, and they earned their status. Mr Ono, the owner, has a daughter who rides with Gloria (and sometimes competes) so that is where the link is...and is as extra kind and familial to her. She is lucky.
Today promises rain. We need to collect ourselves and get to Hermosa Beach with a trip to the grocery store for tomorrow. Other than that, we will see what will evolve. I am sure it will be great!